Uhuru, JSC meeting ‘to smooth relations’

Seth Onyango @SethManex

Chief Justice David Maraga is set to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta in a fire-fighting mission meant to quell tension between the Executive and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Maraga will lead JSC officials to State House on Thursday in a bid to smooth relations between the two arms of government amid a standoff over the swearing in of new JSC members and recent Judiciary budget cuts.

The scheduled meeting comes of the back of the unprecedented arrest and arraignment of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu on alleged graft charges.

A source privy to the scheduled meeting told People Daily that JSC is set to push for the gazetting of JSC appointee to the Court of Appeal Justice Mohamed Warsame.

Reciprocally, the CJ will agree to swear in Uhuru’s appointees to JSC—Prof Olive Mugenda, Felix Koskei and Patrick Gichohi.

Maraga is yet to swear in the trio into office almost five months after they were vetted and cleared by the National Assembly.

CJ’s refusal to swear in the nominees has been seen as retaliation against the Executive’s failure to gazette the election of Justice Warsame as JSC representative to the appellate court.

Parliament had insisted on vetting justice Warsame, a move that was opposed by the JSC and the Law Society of Kenya.

Uhuru had nominated the trio on February 13 and forwarded their names to the National Assembly on the same day. They appeared before the committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for vetting on February 21 and were approved by February 27.

On Thursday, a budget cut to the judiciary is expected to feature prominently in the talks between President and JSC officials led by Maraga.

JSC had raised alarm over Treasury’s move to trim down Judiciary’s budget by nearly half to Sh19.8 billion in the financial year 2018/19 from Sh31 billion it allocated it in the corresponding year.  

Justice Maraga said the reduced funding would injure a number of Judiciary projects including some 50 mobile courts currently under construction which could be suspended as well as clearing the backlog of cases.

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